As US Election Day closes in, the wife of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump made a rare campaign speech in Pennsylvania. At the speech’s end, Melania Trump told the crowd what will be her cause should she win the privilege to be First Lady: cyberbullying.
“Technology has changed our universe,” said Melania Trump on Thursday. “But like anything that is powerful, it can have a bad side. Children and teenagers can be fragile. They are hurt when they are made fun of or made to feel less in looks or intelligence. This makes their life hard and can force them to hide and retreat… It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied, or attacked. It is terrible when that happens on the playground. And it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet.”
She ended by promising to make cyberbullying one of her “main focuses” in the White House.
First ladies—and potential “first gentlemen”—typically champion a somewhat bland cause that most everyone agrees with. Fighting cyberbullying could conceivably fit that mold, but much of the commentary on Melania’s speech focused on her husband’s own use of social media.
The specific references to bullies attacking others over their looks or intelligence stuck out, since Donald Trump has been criticized for mocking the physical appearance of Ted Cruz’s wife, former Republican candidate Carly Fiorina, and at least one of the women who accused him of sexual assault. Among political candidates, Trump is likely the record-holder for having called the most number of people “stupid.”
No surprise, the speech led to plenty of commentary in the media noting some of Trump’s more bully-like behavior.
“All I kept thinking was, ‘Have you met Donald Trump?'” asked CNN’s Dana Bash, who reported on the speech.
The speech was surely an “epic troll,” suggested Maureen Callahan at the New York Post, since it “describes, more than anyone America currently knows, our most prolific and popular cyber-bully, one with 12 million Twitter followers.”
“Isn’t the problem at her own dinner table?” Anderson Cooper asked Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.
“I never felt so bad for anybody in my life,” said Bill Clinton at a campaign event for his wife. “I thought, ‘Yeah, especially if it’s done at three o’clock in the morning against a former Miss Universe by a guy running for president!'”
Election Day is on Tuesday, of course, so we’ll soon know whether cyberbullying is an issue that will have the attention of the First Spouse, whoever it may be.